Curse of the Philistines & The Ephod

The Philistines are evil people, they’re against You, so why would they take the Ark, unless it’s for the gold?  I mean, they’re afraid of You, or they certainly should be, so I don’t get it.

Curse of the Philistines

Ruins of Ashdod
Ashdod is the 5th largest city in Israel, located in the Southern District of the country, on the Mediterranean coast, located 32 kilometres (20 mi) south of Tel Aviv, 20 km (12 mi) north of Ashkelon and 53 km (33 mi) west of Jerusalem.

Ashdod is an important regional industrial center.

The Port of Ashdod is Israel’s largest port, accounting for 60% of the country’s imported goods.

The above and below pictures are of Early Arabian period VI-XI centuries in the southern part of Ashdod.

The Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod and put it in 1 Dagon’s house.  In the morning, when the Philistines went into the house the saw that Dagon had fallen onto his face in front of the Ark, so they set him back upright. 

The next day, Dagon had fallen again in front of the Ark, but this time the head and both hands had been cut off, only the stump of Dagon remained.

The Philistines did nothing to make Dagon fall, and they tried to repair Dagon but to no avail.  It was God that had made Dagon and fall and when they tried to fix it God smote them all with emerods (hemorrhoidal tumors).

The rest of Ashdod realized that they had a serious problem; that God is no one to anger.  So they returned the Ark to Gath.

But God was still angry and 2 smote the entire city with emerods in their secret parts.

They then took the Ark to Ekron, and the Ekronites were frightened, assuming that they brought it there so God would destroy them. 

The people then asked that the Philistines return it to Israel, but God then brought a deadly destruction throughout the entire city.  The men that didn’t die were smitten with emerods, so they cried to heaven.

“And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 

And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD?  Tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place. 

And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you” (1 Sam 6:1-3).

They didn’t know what they should use for a trespass offering, so they asked the priests.

“…Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. 

Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.

Archeological excavations in the National park in Ashkelon have revealed the constructions of Ist century B.C. – VI century A.D.

This picture and the following are the remains of columns of the times of Herod (I century B.C. – I century A.D.), overlapped by more late constructions.

Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?  When he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?  

Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:

And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.

And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us” (1 Sam 6:4-9).

That is what the men did and they took the kine (bull or ox) straight to Beth-shemesh, to the field of Joshua.  The kine was then used as a burnt offering to God.  The Philistines went home relieved and the Israelite’s were overjoyed, but…

“And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 

The ancient Egyptians understood that their gods had prevailed over the forces of chaos through the creation of the world and relied upon humanity’s help to maintain it. The people of Mesopotamia held this same belief but felt they were co-workers with the gods, laboring daily to hold back chaos through even the simplest acts, but the Egyptians believed all they had to do was recognize how the world worked, who was responsible for its operation, and behave accordingly.
This behavior was directed by the central cultural value, ma’at (harmony and balance) which was sustained by an underlying force known as heka (magic). Heka (personified as the god Heka) had been present at the creation of the world, pre-existing the gods, and allowed those gods to perform their duties.
All the people, by observing ma’at, helped to maintain the order established by the gods through heka, but a special class was responsible for honoring and caring for the gods daily, and this was the priesthood.

And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?  And to whom shall he go up from us? 

And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you” (1 Sam 6:19-21).

1 Chief god of the Philistines, originally worshiped by the Canaanites before the Philistine invasion of Canaan.  He has the body of a fish and a man’s head and hands.

2 The Bubonic Plague spread by rats.  It’s interesting that when the Philistines returned the ark they sent along five golden tumors and five gold rants, a hint that they understood their problem to be bubonic plague.

The Ephod

Priest in Ancient Egypt
The role of the priest was very important in Egyptian Society.

The Egyptians believed the gods lived in the temples.

Only the priest was allowed to enter the sacred area of the temple and approach the statue representing the god or goddess.

The people could pray at the gate or in the court to the Pharaoh who acted as a go-between the people and the gods.

Bearing of Offerings The priests role was to care for the needs of the god/goddess.

They have no role to oversee or care for the people of Egypt.

They did not try to educate the people on the religion or look after their morals.

The ephod was a sacral garment, either a simple linen uniform worn by all priests in service to the Lord or the more elaborate apparel of the high priest.

The ephod of ordinary priests was of white linen, a material preferred by all priesthoods of the ancient world because of its association with ritual purity.

Ordination of the Israelite Old Testament priesthood involved investiture (a ceremony of installing someone to priestly office, often including the conferring of special garments), and thus the priv­ilege of wearing the ephod that was con­ferred upon the Levites carried a special significance.

When David donned a linen ephod to bring the ark to Jerusalem, he did so to emphasize his priestly role be­fore the Lord.

The high priestly ephod was a sleeveless garment similar to an apron, held up by the shoulders and fastened in the back by a belt.

Its fabric was an intricate weave of gold, blue, purple and scarlet threads. Hammered gold leaf cords were worked into each individual colored thread so that gold was the predom­inant material of the ephod’s fabrication.

Yet it was the revelatory nature of this garment that rendered it the most important piece of priestly attire.

Hanging from the ephod was the breastplate that contained the Urim and Thummim, oracle stones through which the high priest could determine the will of God.

In the hope of receiving an oracle from the Lord, the ephod was often carried into battle.